Good news indeed. The partnership between citizen and science appears to be paying off. For the period between 2002 and 2004 the rate of cancer deaths dropped significantly.
Death by the three leading cancers in men - lung, prostate, and colorectal - and two of the three leading cancers in women - breast and colorectal - were down during the period. Death by lung cancer in women actually showed a slight rise, but at a slower rate than previously experienced.
Overall, the decline in rate of cancer deaths almost doubled, from 1.1% in the prior period, to 2.1% in the current report. That's terrific news, and researchers say the decline is due to the effectiveness of prevention efforts, early screening and interventions, and more effective treatments.
The drop in the deaths attributable to breast cancer was especially striking. Between 2001 and 2004 the decline was 3.4%per year. This is great news, but... It's unclear whether the decline is due to a reduction in hormone replacement therapy, which can cause breast cancer, or because the percentage of women receiving mammography exams has declined over the past few years.
The good news for colorectal cancer also comes at a price - but a very small one. To take part in the good news requires screening. Yes, the dreaded colonoscopy. The upside of undergoing this procedure, recommended for everyone 50 and older, is that pre-cancerous polyps are easily detected and removed long before they become life threatening. Certainly seems like the reasonable thing to do.
So, how do we build on this good news? Well, if you're a scientist, do your research. If you're a citizen, eat your vegetables...To read more about the study, see this from the American Cancer Society. To learn more about cancer prevention, see this from the Prevent Cancer Foundation.